Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Lair

My notes on Lair

This London-set spook picture has quite a convoluted premise – or nested series of premises – which means it takes a while to get to the meat of the drama.  It’s almost a gloss on the US Conjuring series, putting a cynical spin on its demon-buster heroes and their collection of cursed or malign objects, but the story keeps twisting in other ways.  Writer-director Adam Ethan Crow too often resorts to contrived hardboiled dialogue or soap-style shouting matches but he comes up with some startling supernatural manifestations.  It’s also nicely acted by a decent cast.

Parapsychologist Dollarhyde (Oden Fehr) is between murder trials, and claiming from a dark prison cell that he was possessed at the time he killed his family.  Dr Caramore (Corey Johnson), his collaborator in faking/exploiting hauntings, decides to help his friend out – and incidentally get valuable new material – by getting film that proves demon possession is an actual thing … and decorates an apartment with a selection of cursed dolls, statues etc then rents it out to a family hoping for a restful stay in the city.  Into the flat comes vain Maria (Aislinn De’ath), her stoner girlfriend Carly (Alana Wallace), stroppy teenager Joey (Anya Newall) and timid little girl Lily (Lara Mount).  The four are already deep in dysfunction, to the point when they almost don’t notice the escalating haunting – but at the mid-point, a long-nailed shadowy thing starts rending people apart with artful splatter effects.  Meanwhile, Caramore spies from an adjacent apartment but hesitates about charging in to save the day – leading to a third act that leaps forward to a post-bloodbath police investigation and then draws on Caramore’s footage to prompt flashbacks to how it all happened.

The ins and outs of the plot get fairly hard to follow – see if you get the reasoning that convinces Caramore’s more ethical associate to help dispose of several mangled teen corpses – though it pays off with a decent final twist about who’s really been benefiting from all this.  I would have said far-fetched twist, but the believability train leaves well before we get to this juncture and simply delivering a creepy surprise is enough to cap off a messy, but often entertaining picture.  It may be a first in featuring a suspense scene set during a Pride parade.



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